Celibacy is a bad idea that warps the priesthood


THE resignation of Britain’s most senior Catholic clergyman, accused of unwanted advances towards younger priests, will ratchet up the usual talk about lies, double lives and hypocrisy in the church, and rightly so. The church’s leaders preach a purity that their own clerics can’t maintain. They cast stones, and are so very far from blameless.

But before we range across that sadly familiar terrain, let’s give a moment’s thought to loneliness. And longing. And this: the pledge of celibacy that the church requires of its servants is an often cruel and corrosive thing. It runs counter to human nature. It asks too much.

Just so we’re clear: I’m not excusing priests who have sexually abused minors, or even talking principally about them. The British clergyman, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, isn’t charged with any such crime. He’s charged with failing to obey the moral absolutes he pronounces. And if true, the allegations represent more than yet another peek behind a false curtain of fraudulent righteousness. They’re a suggestion of celibacy’s foolishness, even its recklessness: of the way it warps the culture of the priesthood; of the unreasonable standard it sets.

Last week, just before the allegations came to light, O’Brien raised questions about the wisdom of the church’s tradition of consigning clerics to a single, unmarried, ostensibly sexless life. He told the BBC that the next Pope should consider dropping the celibacy rule, on account of how isolated clergymen can be.

Written By: Frank Bruni
continue to source article at theage.com.au


  1. But this is the basis of “revealed knowledge”! They have to be celibate and avoid involvement or experience in the subject!

    How else could they become theistic experts on sexual matters?

    It’s a bit like (no)IDers’ understanding of biology, and YECs’ understanding of geology!

    Practical experience and study! ?- Shudder the thought! The tree of knowledge is EVIL as every biblical literalist is taught! – “Good AND evil”, for those developing black and white thinking on “revelation v evidence”!

    • In reply to #6 by Vorlund:

      Celibacy is a bad idea – full stop, but I think the more the RCC holds onto its irrational propositions the sooner it will perish and the better for everyone else.

      Celibacy is only part of the problem. You’ll also have to convince them to use condoms.

  2. the modern world will put an end to this wierd club i’m sure. the RCC has tried to keep all its flock ignorant of the facts. (urges are “temptation” and cured with praying). for many priests a simple failure to want to get married, to a woman, around the time young men are expected to, would have been evidence of a calling to the priesthood.

    celibacy is easy to sell to anyone young enough and ignorant enough to still have a “yuk” response. a bit like confirmation, too young to really know what lies ahead but once you’re signed up any doubts are your own problem and guilt to handle, and this is the foundation of the priesthood.

    celibacy is possible but no amount of confessing, praying or cold showers comes close to the ministrations of a skilled vet

  3. A cynical view is that ‘celibacy’ is simply a front! Maybe the church actually is an historical hiding place for homosexuals hiding from persecution. Of course they would appear celibate to their congregations as they would not be attracted to women in ny case!

  4. Celibacy is just a relic of the history of war-lords and inherited power. Minions were given power on condition they did not have children to inherit it and compete with the blood-lines of kings and lords.
    Chinese emperors had eunuch officials for the same reason.

    • In reply to #9 by Alan4discussion:

      Celibacy is just a relic of the history of war-lords and inherited power. Minions were given power on condition they did not have children to inherit it and compete with the blood-lines of kings and lords.
      Chinese emperors had eunuch officials for the same reason.

      That’s the most sensible explanation I’ve seen for the celibacy rule, thanks Alan. A poisoned chalice indeed – power, but at a price.

  5. The eastern traditions regard celibacy in a very different light: The usual path for the “life forces” is downward and outward unless conserved by meditation and celibacy bringing them upward and inward. The result is nourishment of the human central nervous system in preparation for enlightenment. (Google “Tantra” or “The Tantric tradition”.)

    The Council of Nicea (and other councils before it) made an effort to standardize Christian doctrine but may have been more eager to differentiate theirs from other creeds and religions. Hence the imposition of celibacy on it’s clerics has always been a self destructive force, but it ensures surrender of personal power to the Church, by perverting it’s follower’s regard for the wholesomeness of sex.

  6. In ancient civilizations it was customary for adult men to have young teen boys under their protection to have sex with them. This predilection for very young teen people had nothing to do with homosexuality but with the social habit of keeping women at home all the time and the prohibition to women to have sex before marriage. The men were forced to practice forced celibacy and young teens had the nearest resemblance to women. In the 1990s an Arab physician told me that this custom still existed in the Middle East, it seems the reasons were the same: forced celibacy because men and women were not allowed to interact with each other. This is the problem today (and in the past) with the RCC, their clergy are forced to practice celibacy for reasons I ignore, and we know the results: children sexually abused. Therefore, the best thing the RCC’s top brass can do is to allow their clerics to marry like the Protestant clergy and others do. I’m sure the number of these abuses would fall considerably. In fact they must do something because people are no longer prepared to accept anymore crap from the RCC. And this Church seems to have all kinds of crap by the ton.

Leave a Reply